Thursday, August 28, 2008

Spreading the love

Three Four readers have graciously nominated me for this peer-driven recognition:

And what better compliment is there? Thank you Sabrina of Pagan Dawn (and welcome to the Pagan blogosphere), Diana of Diana's Muse, Terri of Aquila ka Hecate, and Livia Indica of NeoPagan Ink! Thanks especially for the kind things you said on your blogs about mine. Whenever my enthusiasm for blogging wanes, it's kind words from readers that keep me writing. I appreciate every link and email (even if it sometimes takes me forever to answer them).

Here's how to share the love:

1. The winner can put the logo on her/his blog
2. Link the person you received the award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links of those blogs on yours
5. Leave a message on the blogs nominated

And here are 7 more blogs I love.

Gaian Tarot Artist's Journal: It's no secret to my readers that I adore Joanna Powell Colbert's art and writing. Her tarot deck (still in progress) speaks to my soul more than any deck I've ever known. I read her blog for tastes of her luscious worldview and photos of her magical life. She's a Goddess-sister very close to my heart.

At Brigid's Forge: Lunaea Weatherstone is another Witch whose work I've admired for a long time. Her blogue is so elegant, her ideas so inspiring. She has a fascinating tarot, and she makes gorgeous Goddess rosaries; I'm the proud owner of one. It gets compliments from everyone.

Medusa Coils, with several contributors, is an excellent resource for keeping up on news relevant to the Goddess communities. My favorite feature is their monthly "Buzz Coil," which mines the Pagan blogosphere for treasure; they always come up with a post I've missed or a Pagan blog I haven't heard of yet.

The Wildhunt Blog: Hands-down the best Pagan reporting on the web. Relevant, fresh, insightful, extremely smart. I know you're all already reading him anyway. Huzzah, Jason!

Hecate: A daily read. Love her politics, her commitment, and her stories about her grandson. Unflinching.

Lynda Hill's Sabian Symbols: One of my favorite, trusty blogging resources for astrological news and interpretation. When I forget where the heck the moon is, I go here. (Uh, and I look up in the sky. But often it's cloudy.)

A Basket of Kisses: Not a Pagan blog, but a blog run by two Mad Men-crazy witches, Deborah Lipp and her sister, Roberta. I spend way too much time here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meet Gryphon

Last Friday we brought home our newest bundle of joy. No, not a human baby; we still have several months to wait for that. The newest member of our family is a lovely adult pit bull, whom we've named Gryphon. We've waited a long time for him.

I have a fondness for many non-human animals (and a Pagan respect for all), but ever since my sweet Lugh radicalized me, my heart belongs to pit bulls. They're profoundly people-focused dogs, loving, loyal, and affectionate. While they can be horribly abused and exploited, they retain their optimism and love for people. It seems like it's nearly impossible to damage the heart or soul of a pit bull. See how the Michael Vick dogs are doing? (For lots more information about pit bulls, see the links in the sidebar.)

Gryphon was left behind in an apartment to starve to death. He was in bad shape when he was found and brought to the SPCA in a city north of here. That SPCA, like most, still, alas, is a kill shelter, but Gryphon's execution was stayed for a long time because he was a favorite of the staff. Still, after a year, no one had adopted him. (Pit bull adoptions are problematic in that city because of prevalent dog fighting. Also, he's really big. And he really looks like a pit bull.) When Gryphon started to show signs of kennel stress, some volunteers at the shelter called a pit bull advocate they knew and asked if she would take him, thereby saving his life, and try to place him in a home. She tried for a year. She attempted one adoption, but when it quickly became clear that the people had adopted him for the wrong reasons and it wasn't a good environment for him, she took him back and decided to keep him, even though her Lab was increasingly jealous and destructive, and even though she doesn't have a lot of money and works two jobs, which necessitated leaving the dogs at home for up to 12 hours at a time. Not ideal or what she wanted, but an economic necessity. On those days, Gryphon would spend up to 12 hours in his crate. But when we met him, he was clearly healthy and well-socialized, a testament to her devotion as well as his temperament.

The foster mom took down all the posters advertising his availability. But she forgot to take down the one at our SPCA, the one where Adonis and I volunteer. The day we closed on our house, Adonis went to his dog-walking shift and saw the poster. Somehow we'd missed it before, even though we always look at the SPCA bulletin board. He took a photo of the poster with his iPhone and brought it home to me. He called and talked to the woman. We went to meet the dog, out in the country about 45 minutes' drive from our town. After spending about two hours with him and his foster mom, we knew he was ours. We called her the next day and told her we wanted to adopt him. She was thrilled.

The next weekend we went to visit them again. We talked with the foster mom about our experience with dogs and pit bulls. She called the volunteer coordinator at our SPCA to ask about us. And then, last Friday, we brought him home.

After Lugh died last fall, we had hoped to adopt again within six months. But our landlord forbade it, not because of anything we or Lugh had done, but because our adopting Lugh had apparently strained relations with the neighbors, who didn't want a "dangerous" dog living next door. We were crushed, and our resolve to buy our own house was strengthened. Was it a coincidence that we learned about Gryphon the same day we closed on our house?

Gryphon is bonding beautifully with us. I'm surprised at how swiftly and easily it's happening. We've set him to a routine to increase his sense of safety, and we're spending as much time as possible giving him exercise, love, and attention. This fall we'll begin obedience classes. We'll slowly transition him to the homemade diet we feed our dogs. Molly's "Animal Wellness" flower essences are wonderful allies, and Gryphon, Adonis, and I are all taking the "New Beginnings" essence. Soon we'll have a ritual to welcome him formally to our family. And this weekend he'll get his first bath.

Last night during our evening walk, we approached a group of children outside a small daycare center in our neighborhood. We were soon surrounded by six small children and the proprietor, a woman who proudly announced that she was grandma to two pitbulls. Gryphon stood patiently while the children petted him and asked questions, even if he was more interested in grazing on the grass. A man who I think was the son of the daycare provider and father to a couple of the children came over and showed his daughters again how to approach a strange dog (first ask the owner's permission, then let the dog sniff your hand, then stroke gently under the chin; never pat the dog on the head). He asked me questions about whether we'd rescued the dog and where we'd found him. As we moved on, the man said to me, "it's a good thing you did." I'm so used to encountering fear and anger from strangers about pit bulls that I almost started crying in gratitude.

Then we arrived home to a friend who'd come over with treats and toys to play with Gryphon. Lucky dog. Lucky us.

Monday, August 25, 2008


(The Guardian [Queen] of Water from the Gaian Tarot, by Joanna Powell Colbert)

Still no internet connection at the new homestead, so blogging hasn't been possible. That should change today. Also, things have been a bit hectic while trying to get settled in the new house.

My dad called Sunday morning and said, "is it true that you're not going to baptize your kid?" Oh boy. Talking to my mom later that morning, she said, oh yeah, he's really upset about that, he keeps saying "that's the final straw, I'm disowning her." (What you need to know about my blustery but very loving parents: they would never disown me. Dad threatened to disown me for having a child outside of legal wedlock, but then he helped us with the down payment for our new house, so you can see how that goes. They adore Adonis, and my mom says that we have the best marriage of anyone she knows--except for the part where we're not married.) Both my parents would prefer that we have the baby baptized. My sister, who is a formidable advocate for us, told them that I wasn't going to do things the way they would have me do them, so they just have to suck it up and let it go. My mom is actually kind of adjusting to this idea. Oh but it's difficult for me, the oldest and always a good girl, to "let them down" by doing things my own way.

Why not baptize the baby? Well, there is the obvious reason that Christianity is not my religion anymore. But that's not my main reason. I would even consider baptizing my baby for my parents' sake if I could get past the symbolism of baptism. Yet I believe strongly in the symbolic value of ritual, and how ritual enactment in part constitutes reality. The ritual message of baptism is this: human beings are born innately sinful, in pain and blood from a woman's body, products of a sinful act; being born human, from sexual intercourse, and of a woman necessitates purification, the cleansing with holy water. And to this I say, bullshit. Human beings are not innately sinful. To be born in the midst of blood, sweat, shit, and ecstasy is a holy thing.

I like the idea of an elemental blessing. I imagine that at a Wiccaning or Pagan baby naming ceremony, though I've never attended one, the child is blessed with earth and fire, water and air. In becoming human we become one with the elements, and to enact that symbolically seems a good thing. So we'll have a ceremony, and there will be a sacred cup filled with water, but the ritual will be something altogether other than a Christian baptism.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moving II

I'm sitting on the couch in my old apartment as two strapping young college men load all of my worldly belongings into a truck. They're working their butts off, bless them. I jokingly offered them my CD player from 1989 (it still works! I bought it after my first year of college!), but they declined. Now it occurs to me that my CD player may be older than they are.

Oh, now one of them is carrying the bedside table I've owned since 1974. (I was 4 when I got it.)

I live with a geek

One of the first things I heard this morning, while still lying in bed:

"What the hell happened? My light saber application crashed my iPhone!"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Goddess avatar

Here's my Goddess avatar. You can make one, too, here. (Thanks, Grian/Lee. And thanks to Terri, whose first I spied.) Why yes, that really is a baby in my belly. I feel at least as surprised as it looks.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


We're packing. And painting at the new house. Well, I'm not supposed to be painting, low-VOC paints or no. I did a lot of the taping around molding and doors, prior to the painting. Adonis and a friend primed the walls in two bedrooms and the upstairs hallway in our new house. I packed all afternoon back at the apartment. I pack in a very organized, methodical manner, and it takes me forever to get anything done. I'm also easily overwhelmed. Adonis blitzes; he's very efficient and doesn't worry too much about organization. He unloaded dozens of boxes from the attic this evening; I sorted through them and decided what to keep, recycle, trash, send to the library book sale. I'd say that we make a good team, but he gets way more done than I do. For this post, I asked him whether I was actually contributing anything. He replied, "you're doing a lot, and you're gestating." So there's that.

We're so happy about the new house. I have a gazillion ideas for it.

Now it's night and we're sitting side-by-side on the couch amidst the boxes, him playing poker on his iPhone, me typing away on my iBook, eating blueberries.

Movers come on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making my own way

I come from a highly opinionated people. It's a joke in my family--and at the same time completely true--that we each think we're right and others are wrong. About anything. Always.

For a long time I was part of a profession--academic philosophy--that encouraged the formation of strong opinions, carefully defended to the death. I wrote an academic and political blog, back in the early days. It had a fairly large readership, for those days. Many of my cohort from early blogging are still writing, doing excellent work, and establishing and maintaining high profiles. I commend them. But I rarely read them, and I even more rarely envy them. For me to write that blog, I had to work myself into a state of righteous outrage on an almost daily basis. That was my fuel. Much of the rest of the time I was depressed. It didn't work for me.

I used to argue politics all the time. Hell, I was professionally trained to argue. I loved it. But I burnt out. Now, I even sit out on political discussions among friends. I don't gather data. I don't try to defend any views. The whole concept of reasoned argument, which used to be my raison d'etre and my holy grail, bores me. I still respect reason, but it has assumed a more, shall we say, balanced and reasonable place in my life.

Part of what I had to learn--thank you, mystery school--is just how unhappy I was making myself by clinging forcefully to my beliefs and my conviction that they were right, that I was right. It's as if I was holding my worldview tightly, clinging to it desperately, when what I really needed was to wear it more lightly. That's a practice. I'm working on it.

Of course, as is the way with families, it still drives me absolutely freakin' crazy when someone in my family refuses to entertain the thought that just because I'm doing something differently from the way they would do it, it doesn't mean that I'm wrong, where wrong gets cashed out as "naive, misguided, idealistic, romantic, potentially harmful." I am idealistic and romantic. Really, it's just who I am. (My part of fortune lies at 30 Aquarius, for Goddess' sake.) But that doesn't make me hopelessly ineffective in the world, unrealistic, unreasonable--though according to my family's running narrative, it does.

You know how having a baby can make everyone around you crazy? Like everyone has a gazillion opinions and horror stories and they need to know the sex right now? And why don't you want to know the sex right now? And oh, aren't you cute and young and naive, you have no idea how much work it's going to be raising a child? (Do you know how much work it is getting a Ph.D. if you haven't tried? No? I didn't think so. Bite me.) I think that as these things go, I'm getting off pretty easy. Maybe it'll get worse as I get more visibly pregnant. But I live in a community where people don't automatically freak out if you say the words "home birth," where there is some acceptance of trying things a different way. (Only in the United States, where something like 97% of births take place in hospitals, is "home birth" a weird thing.) I think my family is showing admirable restraint so far. But I've been pretty clear with them that I don't want their fear to mask and express itself as concern that I don't want what's best for my kid, my partner, me. Because they really do know me better than that.

So here, just for the record, are some ways in which Adonis and I plan to parent our kid, things that might bother some people, Goddess bless them.
  • Non-medicalized prenatal care from our awesome midwife; no ultrasound or prenatal testing unless deemed medically necessary
  • Home labor and birth (my sister will be there; she's attended a home birth before)
  • No baptism
  • Wiccaning (we plan to give the kid a Wiccan name to use until s/he comes of age and chooses a her or his own magical name)
  • The kid will have my surname (my family is actually fine with this)
  • With dogs as integral members of the family, not accessories
  • Celebrating the sabbats and esbats
You know, crazy stuff.

As you can see, it's all pretty abstract. We don't know who it is who'll be joining our family, so we just have to wait and see. We're flexible. I think that will serve us well.

Edited to add: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the big one. Unmarried, we are, as a matter of principle.